Model - module

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

Be careful to pronounce the two woeds model and module distinctly. People who don't speak English as their first language can be misunderstood. (In older texts, before the seventeenth century, there may be no distinction between the spellings module and model, which are both derived, ultimately, from the Latin modus.)

  • A model is a representation of something. It is pronounced with a final syllable like that in 'muddle', 'bottle' and 'little': MOD-'l, IPA: /ˈmɒd əl/. The verb 'to model', pronounced in the same way, means 'to make a representation', or 'to act as an [artist's or fashion, etc] model.
    • Originally models were physical representations, usually on a smaller scale, of structures - buildings, ships and so on. Scale models of aeroplanes are often treasured - stereotypically by young boys; those of houses and furniture by girls.
    • In the past, craftsmen often used models rather than paper plans as the designs of their work. This leads to:
      • the idea of a model as being someone, or something, to be imitated - an ideal example of a type, such as a role model;
      • an ideal specimen of a particular type, often chosen for beauty - an artist's model;
      • a person chosen to show off new designs in clothes etc - a fashion model.
      • a particular type or design of a kind of product, as Henry Ford's first great success was the Model T Ford motor car
    • Nowadays, many models are mathematical - sets of numbers and equations, etc which attempt to show how the 'real' world behaves. Similar processes lead to computer models. These can be harder to visualize than traditional physical models.
  • A module is a self-contained part of a greater whole. Its last syllable is pronounced like 'Yule', or 'you'll': MOD-you'll, IPA: /ˈmɒd juːl/. (There is an adjective, modular.) It was originally a unit or length in which proportions could be calculated, or expressed. (In Mathematics, the term modulus is usually used nowadays for various technical meanings.)
    • A module can be a unit on which design is based: "A length chosen as the basis for the dimensions of the parts of a building, esp. one to be constructed from prefabricated components, all the dimensions being integral multiples of it" (OED).
    • Engineers and other designers find it convenient to design individual items in a larger scheme, for example units of storage in office furniture, or appliances in kitchens, in standard modules, so that a bookcase may be replaced by a filing cabinet which fits the same space. British paper sizes are modular: A5 is half the linear dimensions of A4, which is half A3, and so on.
    • In space travel, different components are commonly labelled modules, such as the command module in the Apollo moon landings.
    • Students will often find a module as a self-contained unit of a course. Students of English Literature commonly do modules on Shakespeare's plays, perhaps a 'long thin module' (all year for fewer sessions) on the comedies and a 'short fat module' (one semester, with more intensive teaching) on the tragedies.